Happy Raksha Bandhan!

While stocking up at Patel Brothers supermarket this week, I met a kind and patient woman who was sorting through a large display of gorgeous string bracelets.

 

rak1

Some of the many styles

I asked her why they were selling bracelets in a grocery store and she said that the Hindu festival, Raksha Bandhan, is being celebrated on Sunday and the bracelets are used in one of the holiday rituals.

She explained that Raksha Bandhan is rather like Mother’s Day or Father’s Day except it is “Brothers and Sisters Day”.  She added that it is always celebrated on the day of the full moon during a Hindu calendar month that usually falls in August.

On Sunday, she planned to tie one of the bracelets (“rakhi”) around her brother’s wrist and feed him a bite of something sweet as part of their celebration.  Her brother was going to take her out for a meal and give her money or a gift as well.  She had already sent a bracelet and greeting card to her other brother in India.

 

Raku tied to a man's wrist in Mauritius.  Image from Wikipedia, click for source

Rakhi tied to a man’s wrist in Mauritius. Image from Wikipedia, click for source

 

According to Indobase Festivals of India  “This festival is celebrated to protect brothers from evil things and sisters also pray to God for the well-being and long life of their brothers. On this day, girls wear new clothes and don’t eat anything before tying the rakhi on their brothers’ wrist. They put red vermillion (tika) on their brothers’ forehead, give them sweets to eat and tie the rakhi on their wrist. Brothers, on the other hand, give… tokens of love and blessings to their sisters. This festival sweetens the relation of brother and sister.”

 

rak2

What’s up Brother?

 

rak4

Immortal Love

I’d forgotten to ask what happens to only children, or in families where all of the children are of the same gender.   Wikipedia  provides some answers ”Today, the practice has taken a more universal and humanitarian form where women and girls tie rakhi to the soldiers, the jailed convicts or other abandoned social sects to make them feel loved and wanted. They also tie ‘rakhi’ on the Prime Minister’s wrist to take the promise of protection. Especially, in northern and western part of India, many girls tie rakhi around the wrists of boys and men who have no sisters and treat them as their ‘God-Brothers‘.

In any case, I chose quite a few rakhi!  Luckily, I’m seeing my brother on Sunday and he’s definitely getting one.  His sons and wife are getting them as well – it’s a lovely tradition that you don’t have to be Hindu to appreciate!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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